What happened after the war in the Netherlands?

This is a primer on my next novel, called The Dutch Nazi Lover (in development).

On April 30, 1945 Hitler committed suicide. On May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered to the allied forces. In total an estimated 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 deaths were incurred, making World War II the bloodiest conflict in history.

World War II became the great watersheds of 20th-century geopolitical history, resulting in the extension of the Soviet Union’s power to nations of eastern Europe, enabling a communist movement to eventually also achieve power in China.

It instigated the European Community to become economically united and set aside tribal wars. It marked the decisive shift of power in the world, away from the states of western Europe and toward the United States and the Soviet Union.

Although not known until after the war, about 107,000 individuals out of a total of 140,000 Jewish Dutch were deported from the Netherlands during the war; 102,000 Jewish Dutch were killed in the most inhuman and industrialized manner in extermination camps: over 72 % of the Dutch-Jewish population perished. Yes, Sean Spicer, with poisonous gas. In December 1944, a total of 750,000 Dutch people were locked up in nazi concentration camps. By the date of the liberation by the Allied in April 1945, 450,000 of those were still alive.


The camp in the novel was modelled on camp Erika, probably named for the heather growing around the town of Ommen, the village that inspired Overdam. After the liberation, the camp was called Erica with Latin spelling instead of German.

One of the prisoners with experiences of other infamous camps in Poland and Germany stated about camp Erika: “Nowhere was I so systematically physically abused as in camp Ommen, namely each and every day.” Many men suffered tremendously and died without reason under the hands of the sadistic, Dutch guards. They died as results of abuse, executions, poor living conditions, malnutrition, and the heavy physical labour.

Many of the prisoners were men dedicated to helping the victims of the nazi-German occupiers, who had become victims themselves, due to their protective actions (hiding people, or helping in other ways). As well, those that resisted the occupation were arrested and locked up, innocent of the so-called ‘crimes’ they had committed: out after curfew, not wearing an ID, not reporting for labour in Germany, or suspected of sabotage actions, etc. In any case, nobody deserved the punishments that were in no proportion to their crime and often without any form of justice.

Near the end of the war during the last period, after the German army lost the Ardennen Attack in 1944 and it became clear that Germany would lose the war, the Dutch guards’s treatment of the prisoners at camp Erika improved somewhat.
On April 10, 1945, the First Polish Tank Division together with the local resistance group took control, and released the prisoners of camp Erika that had not yet escaped or  transferred out.

From then on, the camp was assigned as camp Erica to hold the arrested Dutch collaborators and political enemies for further investigation. In October, 1945 about 1,400 prisoners were still housed at camp Erika; on December 31, 1946 it was closed.

German Kommandant SS officer Werner Schwier, Superintendent of the prison camp, was never convicted by a Dutch court; he managed to escape to Germany after having been kept emprisoned in a Belgian holding camp. He led the Dutch guards and his special commando called the KK all Dutchmen, who were extraordinarily cruel and sadistic to their fellow countrymen.

The novel’s camp boss, the Dutchman Charles Nauwaard’s character, was built on information taken from history about a real person, named Lagerführer (camp leader) and ex NSB member Karel Diepgrond. He was convicted to 20 years in prison and completed eight years, due to clemency by the Queen’s order.

Unterführer (deputy leader) Jan de Jong was shot to death in the Eelde forest, some weeks after he escaped from camp Westerbork together with others detained there, among which was Karel Diepgrond.

Most of the criminal actions within camp ERIKA were executed under the camp’s leadership: German SS officer Schwier, and the Dutch hires: captain Diepgrond and ex-marinier lieutenant Jan De Jong.
The original Kontroll Kommando gang that hunted for victims in the region, were: Jaap de Jonge, Freek Kermer, Toon Soetebier en Herbertus Bikker. The latter obtained the nick name ‘the butcher of Ommen’. During the last four months of 1944, at least ten prisoners were executed by this KK gang.

The novel’s Norbert Bakker character was taken from information known about Herbertus Bikker. He was convicted to death, converted to a life sentence. In 1952 Bikker escaped from the prison in Breda. He was arrested again in Germany, but because his status as a former member of the Waffen-SS, he had German citizen rights and Germany, still honouring that nazi commitment, did not extradite him to the Netherlands for trial. In 1993 the Dutch TV program KRO ‘Reporter’ tracked him down again; in 2003 he finally appeared before a German court for the murder on Dutch resistance fighter Jan Housman. In 2004 the case was closed, because of Bikker’s poor health. He died in November 2008.

The next-worst perpetrator of Bikker’s gang was arrested and escaped in 1952 to Germany from the prison in Breda: Johnny Boxmeer was arrested by the British army in the Ruhr area of Germany (occupied by the British after the war); he was extradited to the Netherlands and got a life sentence, which was converted later to 24 years minus the time spent in jail.
Dutch SS-officer Toon Soetebier was sentenced in absentia to death, later converted to life in prison in 1949. He was arrested later and emprisoned in Breda, from where he also escaped in 1952 to Germany, where he lived until he died in 2006. Jaap de Jonge was convicted to a life sentence.


Purging the Dutch police force from criminal and nazi-collaborative elements was a massive undertaking, whereby each suspect got a dossier; in total 7500 employees received an investigative file, including administrative and executive staff. Almost half of all staff in the police force (40-45 %) were subjected to an investigation. From those police officers still working by the end of the war, in total 81% did not have any disciplinary consequences.

The total number of police staff fired after investigation was 12 %, while 7 % was put on disciplinary measures. Nine officers were sentenced to death and were executed. Dozens of officers got prison sentences, in particular those in leadership positions who had joined the SS and the special political units, and proven to be involved with hunting and arresting Jewish Dutch and illegal workers (including resistance fighters). Membership in the NSB, the SS and the WA led to immediate dismissal from the force without exemption.

feestje Kameraadschap bond  Marechaussee .jpgWINTER HELP fundraising party of Dutch Policemen of the Marechaussee Corps.


Special Courts were formed post-war for the purpose of judging the war actions of the police force and others civil servants. During the trials, many police officers defended themselves that they were merely following the orders of superiors, but the Special Courts did not accept that defence.

The judges considered in their judgments that their very position as a member of the police force entailed they must use common sense and have the ability for sound decision-making; judges held fast to the expectation of police officers to act according to the correct Dutch norms and values. They must be held to a higher standard than civilians, because of their profession. The lack of correct conduct by police officers severely weighted against them.

foto marechausee met duitse marinier.jpgMarechaussee Corps police officer with a German Marine.

At the time, the mere fact of police officers were exposed to many traumatic situations in which they were powerless, was not considered in the trials, nor the need for psychological treatment for the survivors after the end of the war.

Fifteen years after the liberation, by 1960, all prison terms for police employees had ended, due to the completion of their sentences, or by the Queen’s clemency who felt that the Dutch society needed to move on, reconcile, and forgive.

However, for many more decades after the end of war, the police force’s reputation remained severely damaged and caused a split among the old and new officers within the force. In encounters with a police officer, the question whether this officer had been faulty (fout) in the war—on the wrong side—was on everybody’s thoughts. Most did not want to talk about their war-time experiences, afraid for harsh or easy judgements by those who weren’t there.
Dutch Society

Between 1946 and 1950 in total around 60.000 Dutch citizens were investigated for collaboration and criminal acts, of which 20,000 received a sentence.


In 1940 the total Dutch population was about 9,5 million of which 154,887 citizens stated “Judaism” as their religion on the last Dutch census form; most lived in the province of North Holland (including 79,410 in Amsterdam). Five years later in 1945, only about 35,000 were still alive, about 22%. Many important sectors, such as the diamond industry, were completely wiped out and whole neighbourhood emptied.

The nazi German occupiers only needed to employ a relatively limited number of their own personnel, as many Dutch policemen (in special, political units) readily rounded up the Jewish families, to be sent to their deaths in Eastern Europe, while the well paid Dutch Railway Company, staffed by Dutch employees, without fail transported the Jewish Dutch to camps in the Netherlands, transit points on their deportation towards camp Auschwitz, Sobibor, and other death camps. With respect to Dutch collaboration, Eichmann is quoted as saying “The transports run so smoothly that it is a pleasure to see.” Many other Dutch did not see much wrong with betrayal of fellow citizens to the SS or SD.


In the Netherlands, relatively few resistance actions with use of weapons and other violence took place, but a very successful underground movement was established that led to elaborate organizations to feed those in hiding—under-grounders—by falsifying documentation to obtain the needed food stamps. A total estimate of 350.000 Dutch including 25.000 Jewish Dutch went underground. This meant that many more (hundreds of thousands) Dutch citizens were involved in this support. Passive resistance, such as refusing to abide by the German orders or reporting for labour, is not considered active resistance in Dutch war documentation and thus not counted, although frequently severe repercussions were the result, for instance, if caught in hiding or harbouring someone in hiding.


Labour strikes were another successful action, most successfully organized by the communist-led resistance groups and the unions, in which then other, non-members joined.
Important and dangerous work was the support to allied pilots who had crashed above occupied territory and were then smuggled through the Pyrenees in northern Spain/south of France, to England, or to Switzerland.

plane crash attendants.jpgMarechaussee police and other personnel attending at a plane crash. The Allied pilot and other survivors of this crash hopefully were already saved and hidden by the resistance. fighters.

Another important role was provided by the illegal media and the collection and distribution of important information. After possession of radios became illegal, the illegal radio and printed media became even more important.

As the nazi occupation became more harsh, attacks on known traitors, members of the NSB and the German army brass increased. These resistance actions were generally followed by severe retaliatory reactions from the occupier, in which an inordinate number of innocent people were killed.

In post-war Dutch society, the value of resistance activities was frequently questioned by some sectors of post-war commentators and researchers and judged as less desirable, and overall having been ineffective. The value of resistance that most Dutch agreed on as mostly significant, was its effect to renew hope in the Dutch citizens, encouraging them to combat apathy and desperation, and to instil moral resistance to the German occupation.

Beyond those that died in the war years, many more Dutch suffered physical and emotional injuries to themselves or to family members at the hands of the nazi occupiers and Dutch police. Although emotional trauma from war was the subject of research by Dr. Jan Bastiaans (1917-1997), professor in Leiden, and the worst cases of PTSD received some treatment after the war, many families kept silent and suffered in silence. Avoidance of what could trigger trauma experiences are often indicators of untreated trauma.

Many years later, the nation as a whole started to openly deal with the trauma of the war years with a new generation coming to power in the seventies. At that time the national discussion about the clemency of the so-called Three of Breda (emprisoned in the Netherlands on a life sentence) was a hot button issue in the country during 1972. The then-minister of Justice, Van Agt, proposed to free the three German war criminals (Fischer, Aus der Fünten en Kotälla). The proposal was hotly debated and ultimately rejected by parliament. Many war victims—still alive—were triggered, and treatment for trauma became available to those that pursued it.


Posted in Author circles, Babyboomer, EU, Global immigration, Immigration, International politics, the Netherlands, Trump, Uncategorized, war and resistance, world issues | Leave a comment



The City of the Dead, Teotihuacan. Mexico



The Facts


Mexican hero. Zapata. His ghost will haunt Trump in the years to come.

Donald was an energetic, assertive child, and his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at age 13, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.

He spent two years at Fordham University. Fordham was merely a stepping stone. After two years, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. The New York businessman rarely talks about this school. Since he matriculated and didn’t earn his degree, most of us (graduates) don’t even acknowledge him being at Fordham. Trump “doesn’t really represent [Fordham’s Jesuit] values” and that it’s hard to defend him, but campus republicans would still support Trump in the general election.


Trump has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wharton, the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Many have speculated that his father’s prestigious status played a major part in Trump’s acceptance into the university, and a reference from a friend of his brother. No journalist has been able to find any evidence that confirms Trump’s class standing. The commencement program from 1968 does not list Trump as having graduated with honors of any kind. “He was not first in the class. He was not known on campus for any reason at all.” Trump was rarely seen on campus on weekends, he was not involved in activities, and his picture does not appear in the school’s yearbook. Trump himself states that, in his opinion, a degree from Wharton “doesn’t prove very much.” During his years at college, Trump secured education deferments for the Vietnam War draft and ultimately a 1-Y medical deferment after he graduated


As a student, Trump worked with his father during the summer and then joined his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, after graduation from college.


Protests in Mexico against the results of the economic pressures: raise of gas price at the pump.


In 1971, Donald Trump was given control of the company, which he later renamed the Trump Organization. He wanted to create unique buildings that people would talk about and admire, and he wanted to place his name on these buildings. He thrived on conflict and the ultimate challenge, on his best when problems seemed insurmountable to others.

Trump’s business practices were called into question when, in 1973, the federal government filed a complaint against Trump, his father and their company alleging that they had discriminated against tenants and potential tenants based on their race, a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. After a lengthy legal battle, the case was settled in 1975. As part of the agreement, the Trump company had to train employees about the Fair Housing Act and inform the community about its fair housing practices.


It was in 1990, however, that the real estate market declined, reducing the value of and income from Trump’s empire. The Trump Organization required a massive infusion of loans to keep it from collapsing, a situation which raised questions as to whether the corporation could survive bankruptcy. He was forced to appoint a chief financial officer, live on a budget, and standardize operations. In return, Trump was offered a bailout that lowered or suspended his debt interest and, in essence, allowed him to retain most of his valuable assets, namely, his casinos, the rail yards, his residences, and partial interest in the Plaza Hotel.


The new seat of the American government.

Donald Trump eventually managed to climb back from a reported deficit of nearly $900 million, claiming to have reached a zenith of more than $2 billion. However, independent sources again questioned his math, estimating his worth at something closer to $500 million by 1997.


In 2000, Trump construction made headlines again when a state court of appeal ruled that he had the right to finish an 856-foot-tall condominium. The Coalition for Responsible Development had sued the city, charging it was violating zoning laws by letting the building reach heights that towered over everything in the neighborhood.


On October 7, 1999, Trump announced the formation of an exploratory committee to inform his decision whether or not to seek the Reform Party’s nomination for the presidential race of 2000. However, after a poor showing during the California primary, Trump withdrew his candidacy.


With his lover, Marla Maples

In 2004 Trump took advantage of his high-profile persona when he began producing and starring in the NBC reality series The Apprentice, in which contestants competed for a management position within the Trump Organization.

(The annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, were already part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump. He was caught on tape uttering derisive comments about contestants.) Upon Trump’s announcement to run for president, his scathing, derogatory remarks about Mexicans and immigration caused NBC to sever business ties with him. Trump was unapologetic and defiant, filing a $500 million dollar lawsuit against the company, with his daughter advocating in the media on his behalf.


In 2005, Trump launched his for-profit Trump University offering classes in real estate and acquiring and managing wealth. The venture had been under scrutiny almost since its inception and at the time of his presidential bid, it remained the subject of multiple law suits fraud, false advertising and breach of contract. Trump finally settled with the 6,000 victims for USD 25 million after his election for president.


His public image affected by his odd behaviour, his  appearance and of course, his hair.


Beginning in early 2011, Trump expressed doubts about the validity of Obama’s birth country to media outlets. To quell the staunch outcry from birtherists, Obama eventually released his birth certificate in April 2011, verifying that he was born in the United States. In the years since, Trump continued to question the president’s birthplace through his 2012 re-election. In 2013, Trump tweeted that a Hawaiian State Health Director, who died of cardiac arrhythmia following a plane crash, was somehow connected to a cover-up of the president’s birth certificate.

In 2016, as he began to clinch his own nomination as the GOP candidate for president, Trump toned down his stance, telling CNN, “I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I will write a book.” Trump also blamed his presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, on the matter: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”


On July 18, 2015, calling out Senator and one-time Republican presidential nominee John McCain reputation as a military hero. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”



After a Fox News presidential debate in early August, Trump made highly insulting remarks about moderator Megyn Kelly for the nature of her questions, and was hence disinvited from an Atlanta speaking engagement.

Despite ongoing criticisms and controversies, including his proposal to ban the immigration of Muslims to the United States, an apparent endorsement of waterboarding, and widespread protests at his political rallies, several of which had turned violent, he became the main GOP candidate, pulling in the support of 1,238 delegates, slightly above the 1,237 delegate count needed to secure the nomination. In August 2016, he confirmed that he would not release his tax returns before the November election.


Elected at age 70, he is the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the presidency, the first without prior military or governmental service, and the fifth elected with less than a plurality of the national popular vote. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”


Compiled from various articles on the Internet including Wikipedia; Heavy.com; Biography.com; The Washington Post; Encyclopedia.com.





Posted in Babyboomer, Diversity issues, elections, Exercise; old age; aging gracefully; yoga practice ; wholesome life, Global immigration, International politics, latest news items, Mexican life, religion, righteousness, The truth, Trump, Uncategorized, world issues | Leave a comment




Forbes.com reported in November 2016:

Why does it matter so much to Mexico? 80% of Mexican exports go to the US, and so campaign pledges to renegotiate or even tear up NAFTA cast a significant pall over the economy. It appears that, at a minimum, the new USA administration will use the threat of renegotiating or pulling out of NAFTA as a means of pressuring Mexico into accepting concessions over tariffs on certain products – chiefly manufactured goods, in the hope that American firms with facilities in Mexico will move elements of their supply chain back to the US. Mexico cannot afford to lose access to the US market and so would almost certainly have to accept a new deal, but the implications of that on the economy as a whole and Mexican domestic politics could be dramatic in the short term.



According to Latinnews.com:

A number of security experts believe that the “Trump wall” – as described by its main proponent – will never be built. They argue that the cost and technical challenges are prohibitive and that there are legal complications over ownership, right-of-way conflicts, eminent domain disputes, and environmental regulations. But it is feasible that a future US administration would further strengthen and tighten border patrol and deploy advanced technology, including drones and other devices, to make illegal entry significantly more difficult. Mass deportations in the other direction are also possible.


Mexican stock trade building in Mexico City

As the process would most probably be accompanied by a sharp cooling in bilateral relations, it is likely that it could be poorly managed and would have serious unintended consequences. One is that a less porous border with fewer illegal drug trafficking routes might intensify the struggle to control those routes between the drug trafficking organisations (DTOs). If Mexican criminals are deported from US prisons and simply dumped on the Mexican side of the border that too is going to increase, not reduce border tensions. US-Mexican security cooperation would most likely decrease sharply and the Mérida initiative – a part US-funded joint security programme – might not survive. Poor security cooperation between the two countries might be seen as a great opportunity by the ever-resourceful DTOs.


Illegal immigration

According to US border patrol statistics a total of 150,304 immigrants were arrested when trying to enter the US illegally between October 2015 and February 2016, a 24% increase on the same year-earlier period.


Mexico has  a young population, brimming with talent that want to better their lives and are not afraid to work hard.


Mexican presidents on Trump:

Former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) said he would not “pay for that f****** wall”, adding of Donald Trump that “He reminds me of Hitler…he’s going to use the executive power to do what he’d like”. Another former Mexican President, Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), pointed out that Trump is himself the son of immigrants but “is talking about immigrants who have a different skin colour to him. Frankly it’s racist and exploits sensitivities, rather like Hitler did in his day.”



The Economist.com reports:


Outside a massive Volkswagen (VW) factory in Puebla, two hours’ drive from Mexico City, workers fret about Mr. Trump’s threats to whack big tariffs on cars made in Mexico. One American carmaker—Ford—cancelled plans to build a $1.6bn plant in San Luis Potosí, some five hours farther north. It may have had other reasons for doing so, but workers in Puebla are not reassured.




The Trump presidency streaking toward Mexico is already causing problems. Inflation has started rising in response to the devaluation of the peso caused by his election. The central bank raised interest rates five times in 2016; it will probably have to continue tightening. After a sharp rise in public debt as a share of GDP over the past several years, the government must curb spending. Over the past few months, economists have lowered their forecasts for GDP growth in 2017, from an average of 2.3% to 1.4%. On January 1st the government cut a popular subsidy by raising petrol prices by up to 20%. Six people died in the ensuing protests.




Mexican officials think the Trump presidency poses two main dangers. The first is that the United States will renounce NAFTA, which it can do after six months’ notice, or simply shred it by putting up trade barriers. The second is that, as a way of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall, Mr Trump will carry out his threat to block remittances from immigrants in the United States. These inject some $25bn a year into Mexico’s economy.




The president-elect’s other big anti-Mexican idea, to dump millions of illegal immigrants on Mexico’s northern border, is seen as a lesser threat. Under Barack Obama, the United States deported some 175,000 Mexicans a year; Mr. Trump will find it hard to increase that number.


USA Republican plans to tax imports as part of a reform of corporate income tax would hit Mexico hard. The Mexican government sees that as a problem to be addressed by the United States’ trading partners in concert, rather than by Mexico alone.



Mexico has few attractive options. In a trade war, it would suffer horribly. Raising its own tariffs would hurt its own consumers. Yet that does not mean that Mexico is defenseless. In 2009 it imposed tariffs on nearly 100 American products, including strawberries and Christmas trees, after the United States barred Mexican lorries from its roads to protect the jobs of American drivers. That got the attention of American politicians: the pro-trade lobby prevailed.



Mexican analysts are thinking about how the country might fight the next skirmish. Maize (corn), grown mainly in states that voted for Mr. Trump, will be a tempting target. The United States sold about USD $2.5 billion-worth to Mexico in 2016. Faced with the loss of their biggest market, American maize farmers might press the White House to relent. On January 6th, 2017   16 American farming groups warned in a letter to Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-president-elect, that disrupting trade with Mexico and other countries would have “devastating consequences” for farmers, who are already suffering from low prices.


Also for the USA, negative impacts are expected for those businesses trading with Mexico. Vinepai.com reported:


The stock of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and other Mexican beers into the United States, was tightly correlated with the US race for the presidency. When the FBI recently decided to look at more of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Constellation’s stock dropped. When FBI Director James Comey announced no charges would be brought, it climbed right back up, surging with the promise of a Clinton presidency.

These trends were actually fairly consistent with the markets overall. But things changed the day after Trump won the election. While U.S. markets rallied to record closing highs on November 9th, Constellation saw its stock collapse, closing down nearly 8%, off of even deeper lows.


Is a Trump presidency going to threaten the U.S.’s access to Mexican beer?

It would be an ironic twist, since Mexican beer has been enjoying intense popularity in the U.S. in recent years. In 2015, Corona was the most popular imported beer in America. The Mexican beer market — which dominates the beer export market — sends 75% of its exports just north of the border to the United States.

If Trump went through with his promise of knee-capping NAFTA and instituting tariffs, it would make it more expensive to bring finished beer into the United States. It would also make it more expensive for companies in Mexico to make that beer. The Grupo Modelo brewery consumes 6.5 million bushels of barley a year. A large portion of that barley comes cheap from the United States. Barley would become a lot more expensive without NAFTA.

For US shareholders, though, and the 9,000 employees at Constellation, Trump’s impact on

Mexican beer could go deep if the stock doesn’t stabilize. Mexican beer made up 63% of the US company’s  profits in 2016, according to Benzinga, and trade restrictions or tariffs will cut into that and impact business.


Marketrealist.com predicts:


Mexico stands to be greatly impacted by a Donald Trump victory in the 2016 US presidential election. Renegotiating NAFTA1 would impact a variety of industries in Mexico, especially the auto industry.

Mexico’s auto industry is poised to grow at a good pace over the next four years. Vehicle production is anticipated to increase more than 50% until 2020. So, Trump’s stated intention of restricting trade and financial flows between the US and Mexico would impact industrial growth in Mexico (EWW).


In January 2016, Weforum.org published an article by Mexican Enrique President Pena Nieto. Much of his reports about the economy doesn’t hold anymore after the USA presidential elections, but a few areas of economic performance still works:



Connectivity is the key in an increasingly digital economy. Mexico is one of the few nations in the world whose constitution formally recognizes the right of its people to a broadband internet connection. The goal is to connect 70% of households and 85% of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to high speed internet. In order to reach this target, we have established 65 thousand public places with broadband internet connection, such as schools, libraries and squares.

In the same way, we are channeling more than 460 billion dollars for infrastructure, to successfully integrate Mexican products and services into the 21st century global economy. Mexico has become a manufacturing powerhouse. It is one of the top global sellers of TV sets, vehicles, auto-parts, computers and cellphones, among several other products. With improved infrastructure, we will certainly reinvigorate our competitiveness, by setting the stage for expanding the value and variety of our high-tech, export-oriented industries.

With that aim, we are building and modernizing thousands of kilometers of roads and highways, as well as improving our mass transit and railway systems. Besides, we will construct a new Mexico City International Airport and will almost double our seaports capacity on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, among other large-scale infrastructure projects. Our aim is to make Mexico a world-class logistics platform. (So far El Presidente).


I feel for Mexico. There are a lot of economics problem in her future, not easily solved. Per year the absent Mexican sons and daughters living in the USA send 20 billion dollars to their relatives in Mexico. What effect will that have on those dependent on that extra money, elderly parents, children, handicapped or healthy?

On the other hand, ties with Canada can be strengthened and those could become relatively more important to the industries than those with the USA. For example, corn is also grown in Canada, as well as barley. Canada could pick up the slack delivering these products, although most likely at higher cost for Mexico with higher wages and longer transport avenues from Canada. If it comes down to that, the tariffs the US might put on those products, might have the effect that a product imported from Canada will have a similar price than if it continued to come from the US.

Here is where bi-lateral trade would come in. If Canada would take more needed workers and immigrants from Mexico to fill in for the lack of agricultural labour and those in other sectors in Canada, such as construction, the governments could develop special deals that offset the economic impacts for Mexico.




Posted in Diversity issues, elections, Global immigration, growing your own veggies., Immigration, International politics, latest news items, Mexican life, Relocation to mexico, travel, Uncategorized, war on drugs | Leave a comment



Everybody from work I bump into asks how I am liking retirement. The short answer is that I love it. What’s not to like? Getting up at your leisure, enjoying your first coffee of the day in peace and quiet and then determining what else you want to do that day. It is a luxury that I only now appreciate to the full extent, after experiencing this marvellous gift for a couple of months short of a year. It took a few months to completely relax and to let the world of work fade into the background.

I decided that was the time to retire and I set the process in working at the end of 2015. The sale of my home of 15 years would provide me with substantial more than I paid for it and allowed me to pay off my debts. Leading up to the day of retirement, I first took my vacation days for an extended stay at my borrowed, second home in Mexico.
I was enrolled in an on-line writing course with UBC that started in the new year. I worked from the roof top mirador (literally: view point) in the sun. I wrote the outline of my third novel with the smell of Mexico in my nose. I returned to Canada in mid-March.


On March 1, 2016 I put up my home for sale and sold it within three days for above-asking price, with a couple of offers on the go. I was lucky for it was the right time in the real estate market. After paying off my debts, I had enough left over to put an offer on a home in Mexico the following week, in the quaint village where I have been visiting for a number of years. I had been looking for years while asking the locals about anything available that I might be able to afford.
Until this year, I wasn’t able to move on actually buying. My offer (significantly below asking) was accepted. Houses do not sell quickly in Ajijic and it had been for sale for some years, while the winter rentals provided a nice income for the owners in the meantime. How could I lose?


The photo is blurry, because the ladies were jumping,  trying to avoid the cucarachas they imagined climbing up to their legs. I had not fumigated the casa before our arrival and there were some of these Mexican creatures running around when we arrived.

I spent two weeks in June in my Mexican village together with two of my friends to take possession of my new home and to get things organised with the caretaker. My home there is larger and more beautiful than anything I owned in Canada, although it is still simple, built and decorated Mexican style.
In November I made the trip again and I will stay here until spring 2017. The weather is perfect to me, between 22 and 27 degrees with cooler nights, sunny most days or at least for part of the day.


A year of not working, what is that like?

My home in Kelowna in the strata complex was not as restful as expected, with a new problem of second hand smoke from all the smoking neighbours penetrating my digs to a significant level throughout the day. I was glad to lock my door and leave for Mexico.
My days here in Mexico and in Kelowna have evolved into a general routine. I work through the mornings on my book manuscript and writing stories. Then I shop for my daily groceries. It feels like I have returned to the rhythm of my home country in the Netherlands with daily shopping for what you need and not anything more. Stockpiling is a waste and not necessary.


Here in Mexico I have a small tienda (shop) across from me, and three more around the corner; the baker brings daily fresh bolillos (buns) to the shops. By 11 a.m. these are sold out and the lunch preparations already started everywhere. Many small shops and restaurants offer food for low prices, and most shops have their specialities. No need to make your own tortillas, others will do that for you, and every day fresh. Beans, or refried beans in small or larger containers, tamales and empenadas, or for the Gringos more usual fare. Hamburgesas are everywhere available. From 2-4 most shops close for a rest. I have come to appreciate a little snooze at siesta time.


The afternoon here starts after 4 p.m. and are really evenings, as it gets dark after 6:00. Most people work till 7 p.m. after which their dinner time starts. I generally am a bit earlier, and I take most meals at home.


Mexican families in my neighbourhood enjoy their leisure time in the streets, half on their narrow sidewalks, and half inside, with kids playing on the streets. The children are out late, but by 10 p.m. all is quiet. At fiesta times it is not unusual to see a group start a small fire on the cobblestones in the street, to chase the cooler night air away while socializing, sitting on the sidewalk, or on plastic chairs, or just standing around, while the kids are playing.




The toro and the Zayacas are important symbols of the culture. The bull fighters are the Charros who represent courage and agility and form an integral part of the community and its history of bull fighting, giving young men an opportunity to show courage. Some cities still have bullfights. In Ajijic the bull does not get killed or injured. During the last fiesta the previous year, too many kids had entered the bull pen, so the event was cancelled. Horses are plentiful and mostly pets. During Carnaval there is bullfighting in the evenings.

The Zayacas are men impersonating women, a complicated symbol of a complicated gender relationship. They will have a bag of flower and will”spray” you with flour, if you get too close or are tempted into a dance with them.

Sometimes I am out in the evening to see the procession for a fiesta when there is one happenin or go for a walk along the malecon (boulevard that borders the lake) or I stroll around on the plaza in the centre of town, where all roads lead to. I meet some friends/acquaintances and chat for a minute in the street. I meet new people while having a coffee at the coffee shop, or a margarita rocas at the Music Box pub. When at home, I watch my TV news and a movie on my Apple gadget in the evenings.


Chapala malecon

Occasional visitors are staying at my place the odd time. We try to do various activities in town and in the region. My last visitor and I have visited the hot springs and pools in the next town over, San Juan de Cosala, and went for a change of scenery to the larger town of Chapala a few times, where I also paid my tax bill for the year—less than the price of a dress. (I now pay my own bills, since I lost my house manager; she found me too demanding and since I am not going to rent out the place in winter, that was just as well.)
For the first time, I went with my friend for a spell at the casino located between the two towns, where a modern mall with food court and a Wal-mart outlet across the road attracts a different kind of clientele, mostly young people and gringos. We even found a Danish bakery there with a breakfast and lunch deli that sold excellent sourdough bread.

It is easy to get around without a car. The local bus in Mexico costs 7 pesos (CAD .50), and the express bus 10 pesos. The latter will go to Guadalajara, which costs more. The local bus runs every half hour and more often at rush hour.
Local agencies offer day tours in the area for about $30 for nearby trips that include a guide who speaks English. For longer trips including hotel around the state of Jalisco you pay more of course, such as to the Monarch buttefly sanctuary.


Guadalajara’s oldest church in Centro

My visiting friend and I took a trip to Tlaquepaque and Tonala, old towns that have been absorbed by the city of Guadalajara and are famous for their craftsmanship. We visited the workshop (taller) of a well-known, ageing ceramic artist who also took up painting. His family runs the front of his casa where they sell tacos and other Mexican delights.
On this trip we were granted an exclusive visit to a vast warehouse full of decorative metal products where we could purchase anything, if so desired. The trip then brought us to a glass workshop where the recycled glass was used to make decorative as well as functional products.
Everything you saw in that home decor store in the US, Canada, or Europe was most likely made in Tonala, although China has started to copy its products, so look for the Hecho en Mexico sign.


Salvador Vasquez’ depiction of a Spanish ruler.

My real work is the writing work in which I can determine my own pace. My manuscript for a third novel is now in advanced stage and I am polishing it up, to be ready for the agents I will meet at the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in February, just in case they ask me to send some of my work.

Occasionally I meet others here in the streets, as some gringos on vacation seem nicer here than at home and more open for a chat and making a connection, although many gringos at first walk by you with their noses in the air and hardly bother to greet you back. I found that those who live here full time are nice, and the Canadians are definitively nicer than the Americans here, generally speaking. But then again, I might be biased.


The patio where I work.

I have gone to another dimension, here in retirement. The life of work is so far behind me that I can’t believe it has only been a year. The nervous tension caused by expectations of others and the demands of supervisors and the conventions of social control is such an invisible environmental pressure that it takes to be completely away from it for an extended time before it even hits home what it was that made one feel tense.

Being away from my country makes it more obvious that the secret of a successful retirement is finding a comfortable environment. The living is very easy in Mexico. Live and let live. Everybody leaves me alone unless I indicate I seek connections. My neighbours know me and say hello and chat when I chat, although with my limited knowledge of Spanish it won’t be a long talk.


The odd creepy feeling comes over me and then I check where it comes from. Mostly it is from warnings from others that have taken up the media prejudice against Mexico: Is it safe there? That in the USA more attacks and more shootings occurred in which the general public was the victim than in Mexico from violence between the cartels is an inconvenient fact that most ignore.
It took a while to find out that the collection of youth gathering most nights in front of my home, are just that: Friends who gather, have a drink, or smoke up some, and quietly spend time together, talking. They remember their friend, Cleo, who killed himself some years back. His name is on the pedestal of the statue that forms a small altar for the Virgen de Guadalupe. They politely return my greetings when I arrive at my place when they are there.

I feel great.The first year of my retirement has been a success.

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TRUMP’S ELECTION has a lot of people very worried, with good reason. History repeats itself for those who will not learn from it.This is how Germany got in over its head about 83 years ago. It may serve as a warning.



American Eagle


When Hitler got the majority of the German electorate behind his policies, his actions up till then were not all that alarming. After all, he got there legitimately. Only in hindsight seemed his actions to have unavoidably lead to the mass extinction of the victims of this white supremacist, xenophobic dictator.



German Eagle

Except to his targets–the Jewish Germans–who knew very well by the day that his chancellorship started in February 1933 that their lives might be in danger. On April 1, 1933, Hitler implemented a national boycott of Jewish businesses, followed by the introduction of the ”Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” of April 7, 1933, which was one of the first laws to persecute Jews by excluding them from state service.




Only the smart ones left the country then, which wasn’t all that easy to do. In those days of economic depression and political turmoil, an exit permit and immigration approval from other nations were hard to come by. Borders were not as permeable as they currently are in the modern European Community. Many thought it wouldn’t be as bad and the hateful talk was just bluster.

The composer Kurt Weil had left the country, and Hannah Arendt, the strong feminist philosopher of fame (who wrote her controversial book about the trial of Albert Eichmann in Jerusalem), both were examples of those who saw the writing on the wall.

(Movie Margarethe von Trotta: Hannah Arend)




Hannah Arendt



Margarethe von Trotta


Hitler promised his supporters economic prosperity, reminding the Germans of their history, when the once-great German Empire under the Habsburg dynasty ruled the world. He was going to make Germany great again, making sure that all Germans would get a share in the wealth. He was a nationalist: Germany first–then the rest of the world.


German nazis demonstrating.

Hitler called himself a socialist–all Germans would share in the nation’s wealth. But the socialist varnish soon disappeared, when he started blaming the communists (the Marxists=the Jews) for the troubles in Germany, and for losing World War I, calling them disloyal and a danger to the unity of the nation, thus marking the targets for his followers’ distrust and anger. An overwhelmingly Caucasian population ate it up. In a world full of white skin, the ideal Germanic Übermensch (according to Hitler) had blond hair, and bleu eyes, although Hitler fell short in that category himself.

Disappointment with the disastrous results of the lost war–only fifteen years prior– was fresh in people’s memory, its humiliating defeat still on everybody’s mind. Many fathers had become invalid, if not dead. The ‘common folk’ were sensitive to future losses. All Germans in 1933 desperately needed a win.


images-3.jpegWir Sind Die Schrittmacher — we are making strides (in Germany)


In the USA (and in other industrialized nations), many whites  recently lost their job,  as the economy became globalized.  They see Trump as their hero, who promises to get back lost industries, although the largest section of Trump voters apparently were those with average income of $75,000. They have indeed something to lose, but maybe not what they think they will lose.

The war in Vietnam was a disaster, so was the Iraq initiative to depose Saddam Hussein, and now Afghanistan and in Syria against the IS rebels. The US army doesn’t seem able to win anymore. Trump says that Putin is a hero, he is a strong man, we like him, if only we had such a leader we could win. Those seem to be acceptable views, although short-sighted thoughts, and  it does indicate what sort of a man Trump is: Violence demands violence, and take what you want.


images-4.jpegIn the thirties Americans were willing to take any job.


Hitler started a massive infrastructure rebuilding program, just like the new USA president-elect Trump announced he will start. With shared private-public funding of mass projects, Hitler indeed managed to give the economy a jolt.

Trump will undoubtedly favour his own corporations and friends’ businesses with massive tax breaks for working on those projects.

Hitler was not an educated politician, but a frustrated failed artist, rejected twice by the Art Academy, a labourer. He was an immigrant from Austria who was homeless for a while, until he joined the German army as an Austrian. He saw a bit of war, but was mostly stationed behind the front lines, although he obtained an iron cross for having been in WW1.

Working his way up rather quickly to a political appointment  through his way of convincing and inspiring others, he became the German Chancellor. He then appointed a master of indoctrination and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who further administered the poison pill to the German Volk, to great effect, as we all know.

Hitler collected loyal followers around him  who would blindly follow his orders and to make the laws needed to advance Hitler’s agenda.

Doesn’t this sound like Trump’s assignment of Stephen Bannon as his propaganda minister?


The masses were no problem for Hitler, and were already inspired by Hitler’s national pride-inciting speeches, delivered in rambling rants and raves that just hit the spot with listeners, to raise their blind admiration. Sounds familiar?

It was a politically restless time after WWI, when the German nation had become a republic; a few coups were attempted. After another attempted coup in August 1934, Hitler convinced the cabinet to enact a law abolishing the office of president, combining its powers with those of the chancellor. Hitler thus became head of state, as well as head of government and was formally named leader and chancellor.

As head of state, Hitler became supreme commander of the armed forces. Hitler disbanded the German parliament, when he was sure he could get away with it, effectively making Germany a dictatorship.

One would think that German citizens would protest, and that indeed happened to an extent, coming from the intellectuals on the left of the political spectrum, i.e. communists, socialists, educators and artists, and from Jewish circles, the latter often fitting more than one category. However, the protestors had been effectively  made ineffective in their protest by the propaganda ministry; those that persisted, just got arrested.

images-2.jpegRecent demonstrations in Germany against the rise of white supremacy.


Why did the Jewish generate such hate? What was that about?  Many non-Europeans might not know how the Jewish in Europe got their ‘special’ position of outliers in the community. History is conveniently forgotten. Many private citizens, church officials and governments have played a role that wasn’t always nice. It also took a long while before the Jewish themselves believed, no–hoped–it wouldn’t come to this, counting on the presence of rational thinking in others.

It’s a long story, that needs to be explored, but the short version: During the advance of Christianity all over Europe, the Christian religious leadership pointed to the Jewish as the original murderers of Christ. Religion is what ruled the masses, with the priests as the puppet masters. Blindly following religious leaders is not a recent invention.

We all know the story of Christ, who was a Jewish pacifist born in the old territory on the Mediterranean Sea (later called Palestine) that was occupied by the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ, exposed the religious leadership of being in cahoots with the Roman oppressors-occupiers of the Palestinian-Judean lands. Christ paid for his rebellion with his life. After his religious leadership turned him over to the occupying force, he was crucified by the Romans. He became the martyr for the Christian rebel movement that later got established as the main religion in Europe.

As we all know, governing authorities seem to more easily ‘manage’ the masses when providing them with a target and a focus for hate, gladly stirring up emotions, to distract the attention away from the real issues that the leadership doesn’t want to be scrutinized on.

After the start of Christianity, the believers of the Jewish religion (including those non-practicing), were officially banned from all official trade unions (guilds) in the cities of Europe; they could not attend universities, were not eligible for charity, and so on. They were relegated to the edges of European society.

But the the Jewish Diaspora in Europe successfully survived by reinventing themselves, specializing in trades outside of the established trade organizations (e.g. in the arts, as diamond cutters, in commerce, money lending, etc.), forming their own organizations and charities, favouring their own from within their community, once established. Their successes for instance in banking and the arts irked many non-Jewish, then and now. Anti-Semitism among the non-Jewish has continued over the centuries to this day, and not only in Europe.

After World War 1, the Allied had regained the Palestine territory from the Syrian Ottoman empire and it came under mandate of the British through the League of Nations (forerunner of the UN).

After WW2, Palestine became the place Jewish Europeans, who had survived the extermination camps, settled. They still held Palestine in their memory as their original homeland from many centuries ago. The Europeans had demonstrated they didn’t care for the Jewish citizens, so not much attachment to that place lingered, so many survivors elected to move to the land that was historically promised according to their religion. Others immigrated to America, Canada and Australia.

The battle for legitimacy as a Jewish nation then started in Palestine. The Allied conveniently had disregarded Palestine’s then-population, an Arab tribe (originally related to the Jewish brethren that had left the territory centuries earlier). Like the other Arab tribes of the Middle East, they had turned to Islam at the time the Europeans turned to Christianity.


Back to 1934.

Besides the Jewish German intellectuals, the non-Jewish intellectuals  also read the writing on the wall, and soon withdrew from all criticism on the Hitler government. Fit was made clear that one had to choose, for or against the Nazis: there was no middle ground. Most intellectuals had abandoned their Jewish friends and colleagues already by 1934.

Hitler made all kinds of laws with the help of his gang of administrators. Human principles or international laws didn’t count anymore. Hitler started early on with excluding certain segments of the population, with the acceptance of the general population. He pushed the buttons of fear and loathing in the population that were so well developed in his speeches: against criminals, anti-German elements, those that only misuse the national resources and have no right to those benefits, traitors to the national cause.


Trump calls them Mexicans, criminals, terrorists, and Muslims. Media reports told of how he also used coded words for Jewish Americans, raising the acceptance of anti-Semitism in the USA. He figured about 3 million criminal Mexicans are in the US. What was their crime?

Being Mexican and working for decades, paying taxes and having children cannot be a crime. How come not any of the previous elected governments didn’t address the undocumented issue earlier in the game, when it was known where they lived without a permit to stay, as they were already paying taxes to the tune of billions of dollars? The US governments didn’t want to miss out on those and needed the labourers. It’s as easy as that.  Ans that the Mexicans and others from Central and South America take the jobs at a lesser pay that the local Americans don’t want to do, just like the European Jewish took the niche markets, and made a success of themselves.

Envy is the green eyed monster that destroys.

Hitler’s National-Socialists were nationalist first. As the national anthem states: Germany over the World (Deutschland über Alles in der Welt).

Trump defies a category; he acts under the Republican banner, but what is he really? He found a good banner to fly under, and the Republican leadership hastily accepted him as their ticket to staying in power. Trump certainly is a nationalist, “making America great again”, the greatest country in the world, many Americans believe right now.

Hitler’s ‘socialist’ identity only pertained to the white supremacists themselves, who shared in the wealth–for a while at least, when the economic miracle lasted. When he started deporting the Jewish Germans, the invalids, the Roma, gays and the mentally ill, it was too late.

He first annexed various territories to his Reich, followed by the invasion of many other nations, with disastrous results for all of Europe and the world. Hitler started his march through eastern Europe in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, six years after his appointment as Chancellor (=Prime Minister equivalent). Another six years later, in 1945 all of Europe was in shambles.

Will the world have to look forward to a similar fate with Trump’s election? Will he act with bluster and actual military interventions to international upsets (the middle east, and the Baltic nations come to mind) and thus invite retaliation, plunging the world into another global military conflict? Will he set back the US democracy and cause the undoing of the American Constitution?

Past this site in your browser to see a convincing video.



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A Week of Disasters




Today is the morning after Remembrance Day, the end of the week of disasters and of crying my eyes out–a Saturday. Even the heavens are soaking us with an intense downpour in this early hour, the light diffuse and the sound of water on metal roof trying to wash all sadness out of our system.






I cried for all those hit hard by the choice of half of the electorate for leading our neighbouring nation, the elected man who loudly announces his Hitleresque thoughts on anyone different from him. The future looks bleak for them and us. Will we face a repeat of history that I barely escaped then? The echo of war, not so long ago, reverberates.

The memories are still there, laid down in documents and drawings of resistance during 1940-1945.


At The Source Of Resistance, The struggle of the town of Ommen against the German occupation 1940-1945. Drawings by Jef Last, editor.



I cried for my father, for my ignorance all those years of who he was, for his life and his troubles from five imminently important years, none of which his children knew. Only when children wish to know–after our fathers are long gone–can we face up to the truth. I wished I had known then, but our parents didn’t speak about their fear, hurt and failure. He is the one with the pipe.



Seventy years passed and truth looks different now, anger and hurt has shifted; survivors pain and guilt died with the dead. All suffered under Hitler, some more so than others, each survivor finding a way for dealing with their realities in an infinite number of ways, from bad to good and everything in between.

Below a sheet of food vouchers from the distribution services, necessary to ensure that  every family got at least some food, as long as stocks lasted. Aardappelen-potatoes, Algemeen–general, Boter–butter, Melk–milk.


I cried for my lost generation, turning from dreamy and ignorant love children to desperately holding on to what they amassed. I cried for our poet with the heartbreaking voice singing goodbye so eloquently for the last years, warning us it will all come to this. I cried for my youth that has unavoidably died with his death.


Grieving, the pain of necessary healing, something we would like to avoid. Nevertheless, we need to feel it, just to become and stay human–complete.


My wish for the coming year is not to escape, but to use all emotions involved in that process, identify them, and then to hold on to strength, to become stronger, so we can stay human and truthful.


This statue in Amsterdam of the Dock worker was erected in remembrance of the wildcat strike of the workers in February 1941 against the treatment of our Jewish Dutch by the German occupational authority. The strike started in the docks of Amsterdam and was instigated by local communist leaders. The Dutch government had already prohibited the Communist Party before the German invasion,  because of the party’s criticism on the government that was interpreted as anti-Dutch and a threat to the stability of the country!

The real danger was not the Dutch communist party, but the neighbouring nation and its Nazi leader who already loudly announced his plans then to have an army and fight for its right, making the nation great again, planning to overrun the continent.

Lest we forget…..







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The last Fortnight of a working life


One can only spend so much time listening to the radio with headphones on, reading emails, soliciting work from colleagues, and trying to come up with something to do, before boredom sets in. I wrote this story while listening to the radio show Definitely Not The Opera with Sook Yin Lee life broadcast from Saskatoon while texting on WhatsApp with my girlfriend in Amsterdam, sitting at my desk trying to be busy, doing what’s expected from a good civil servant. What’s to complain about, you ask? I hate boredom, can’t stand it; I want–no, need–to be busy!



I have become an inconvenient employee at the end of my work life, caught up with all the work available within and outside the parameters of my job description, looking desperately to fill my day with useful activities. My new supervisor further restricted the scope of my activities, and anyway, she is too busy catching up with her new role to wreck her brain on finding something for me to do.


Sure, purely for something to do, I could try to decorate an ugly Christmas sweater at work with sewn-on applications, so I can wear one–a request from upper management in an attempt to spread some holiday cheer—but no, that’s not me. I already decorated my office with last year’s stuff, but this year my window is squeaky-clean as well, because I have lots of time to cover for the failing janitor. You see, I am on the count down, with fourteen days until retirement, after a working life of 50+ years that started full time and full speed at age nineteen. With a bit of luck I get to be retired for another 20 years joining the silver wave.



Not many of my personal items are left to pack, as I dismantled my 2.5×5 meter spot—half the size of a prison cell, but more comfortable—that I occupied for the last  stretch of my working life. Half of my waking hours are spent at work, and yet the space was hard to make personal at the best of times. After my re-assignment, two years ago, I didn’t bother anymore with making the space mine: it was just a station on the way out. Like in the movies, I want to walk out on my last day of work with just one banker’s box and a smile on my face.



The R word is on everybody’s lips these days. Most often, the  voice of the lucky ones, close to that hallowed status, contain tones of anticipated liberation, while others can only yearn, calculating how many more years until freedom will come to them. Sometimes, questions and concerns arise about falling into an abyss without work. “What are you going to do all day?”


Yes, what? Travel, of course, and being away, and then travel to warm spots again.

But, first what I will do after I wake up, is not getting into get-ready-for-work mode, unless I chose to do so for an event that is not-work. I have no illusions of sleeping in with a cat (the little one in the photo, the black one has died) that is allowed in my bedroom and wakes me mornings with a gentle tap on my closed eyes, my mouth or nose. When I don’t respond, she drags a bit of claw over my skull, enough to be uncomfortable. Once or twice she has taken my nose between her four canines and the rest of the thirty teeth, luckily with not enough force to break my skin, just to warn me it is time to feed her. This week I noticed some tiny, crusty claw marks on my arm, with skin less sensitive, so I did not wake up. I must have been warm and sleeping heavily when she was ready to get up.


The coffee ritual is my daily treat already now, so why change a good thing? I ground my own coffee and brew a cup in my expresso maker. I enjoy it with my toast, religiously protecting this quiet time at the start of my day. After retirement, I might even take a second cup!


Next, I will read the newspaper on my iPad App, a luxury I allow myself on weekends only, but now any day I want to. Can we still call it a newspaper when no paper is involved?


I used to think this national paper was for conservatives, or least the centre/right in the Canadian political spectrum, and I was progressive, so what happened? Had I possibly become conservative over the years? Or did the nation’s conservatives turn ultra conservative, so that my paper needed to object and turn more progressive? Whichever the case might be, it turned out the Globe and Mail is the only national paper that I can stomach.


Harper made Canada look so intolerant with much finger pointing, finding targets for derision in women and members of non-Caucasian groups that I started to feel I should leave this country again. I was very happy that Harper and his crew of ultra conservatives-bordering-on-neo-fascists were thrown out of government. Hurray for common sense! As someone with definitive interests in politics, I just might volunteer with the upcoming preparations for changes in our electoral system, now that I have time on my hands.


But,  as a writer, my real job in retirement will be writing a third novel and entered a course to that purpose through UBC on line by Nancy Lee and Annabel Lyon, BC authors of novels that I enjoyed. I am excited and can’t wait to start this new phase of my life.



My office in Ajijic. Mexico


I will enrol in Spanish lessons. Habla Espanol? and hopefully will make new friends, away from work. img_0453





These photos are of local women and girls for a campaign to eat healthier, as so many in Mexico are overweight, threatening their health, mostly due to the vast amounts of pop and sugary snacks, not indigenous to their culture.


Next time I will write about the first year of retirement.

Please, rate this blog post at the top.  I welcome any comments you may have.

Posted in Author circles, Babyboomer, Creative fiction, Dealing with aging and dating, Exercise; old age; aging gracefully; yoga practice ; wholesome life, Global immigration, Green living, memoir writing, Mexican life, Publishing, Relocation to mexico, Retirement, Short story, travel, Uncategorized, Writing life | Leave a comment

READY TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOUR? Strata No-Smoking Policies


In strata complexes all around the nation a battle is going on to make strata buildings smoke free. Stratas are considered private residences, as opposed to public buildings, which house businesses or government services.

Neighbours are not talking to each other. Lines are drawn, the dividing line  the tolerance or intolerance for  smoke in your private space.

Smokers say:
“Oh, just put a fan on your deck if you don’t want any smoke. Live and let live.”
“My deck is my space, and nobody can tell me what to do in my own house.”
“I can’t walk, so I need to smoke on my deck, because I don’t want to smoke inside.”

Non-smokers say:
“Why should I inhale your  smoke that you don’t want to inhale inside your home?”
“What makes you so special that trumps my right to clean air in my own home?”
“I have the right to enjoy my place without you polluting it.”

The British Columbia Tobacco Control Act and Regulations has formulated the policies for public building in B.C. for smokers. This act is already in effect and enforced for many years for public buildings. Evidence of it is that we can see smokers huddle at some distance from doors by an ashtray on a stand, or some kind of cement pillar with a dish filled with sand and cigarette butts. Included in the Act is that smokers need to stay away from open doors, air intakes, and entrances, at a distance to prevent smoke from seeping into buildings through those openings. More restrictions make smokers aware of their habit and maybe that they better make an effort to stop smoking.



It so happens that I live in a strata building; my unit is  is located adjacent to the breezeway. The dryer and stove hood vents are located in that corridor, as well as the fresh air intakes for the forced air heating/cooling.
Most units in my complex are in a two-unit stacked arrangement in blocks of four units, separated by a breezeway. Most decks are situated in that same line.
Except two decks at two different locations  in my block that are built right over the corridor in the breezeway, hanging in space half-way between the ground and the roof.  Those decks are only connected at two sides—to the wall of their respective unit and to the wall of their neighbouring unit across the corridor.



In my case I got the bad fortune to have a smoking neighbour. The “floating” deck of that smoking neighbour is completely open to the front and back.The smoke from the 2 smoking occupants of that unit rises to the ceiling of the breezeway, where the intake vents and exhaust outlets are located. The “fresh” air intake is intended to lead outside air into the furnace, so it can burn properly. When the furnace is not blowing heated air, outside air just rises passively, entering the furnace and just sits there.

That is exactly what happens. The passive air intake fills my duct system with the neighbours smoke. I do not use the A/C and when I can’t avoid it anymore (because it gets hot in the Okanagan Valley), the collected smoke gets blown throughout my home. The same happens when I turn on the heating.



My home stinks like a smokers den. The one neighbour who is at home full time, reading on her deck, seems to be a chain smoker and also smokes marijuana in the afternoons. I am so annoyed because I have given up that habit since my late twenties and chose not to smoke—anything. Period.

Strata councils have a duty to address breaches of the Bylaws with the occupants. The Bylaw breached is: Causing a nuisance that prevents another resident from enjoying their unit.
Since the previous summer I have tried to remedy this smoking issue. I sent a message to the strata council. I have approached the neighbours myself personally and made them aware of my problem with smoke; the problem subsided then for a while.

This year the problem was back in full force. The difference is that this year I am retired from my day job in a public building and am no longer protected from unwanted smoke.
I now work from home. The smoke hits my nose starting at 9:30 and doesn’t let up until I go to bed. It doesn’t matter if inside or outside, as my deck is exposed via the outside as well.

At the last two AGMs the council of my strata complex has made motions to make the whole complex non-smoking. The motion was clumsily formulated, put forward inadequately, and ultimately was defeated. I am left to find my own solutions, as the neighbour continues to smoke herself into the grave.

People don’t like change, and certainly not if it would interfere with their freedoms: What other residents do in their own homes is their problem.

Other stratas have successfully initiated new Bylaws that address the nuisance issue from smoking. One strategy could be to introduce the restrictions step by step, rather then make the whole strata complex non smoking.

The simplest strategy would be to get in line with the already existing overall smoking restrictions in the province by the B.C. Tobacco Control Act and Regulations, and adopt that law for the strata residences. It needs to be spelled out in the Bylaw addressing the nuisance use of residence that the balconies and decks are included in that Bylaw.




Bylaw 3:
Use of property and Strata KAS 1424 Bylaw # 3. RE: Balconies and Decks:
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: Smoking is prohibited within 3 meters of the exterior perimeter of the townhouse building, specifically including all windows, doorways, air intakes and balconies. For the present time smoking continues to be permitted within individual residential units.

In this case smoking on all balconies is prohibited. As it concerns a new Bylaw or an amendment to an existing Bylaw, the owners need to ratify this addition at the AGM.

My strata’s council has been unsuccessful in stopping the neighbours’ nuisance. The neighbours and I have been working on a costly solution that might address most of the nuisance problem. I installed a screen on the side of my deck that is exposed to my neighbours’ smoke, entering my deck from along the gable of the building.
My neighbours are installing a same screen along the back of their deck, to stop the smoke from reaching the air intake.

The manufacturer claims that the screen material stops 95% of all air flow from going through. I sure hope so, as I am paying half of the costs of my neighbours’ screen, as well as my own.


Good fences make good neighbours, they say. That applies to strata complexes as well.


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image[2]Canadian troops in Holland

Canadian troops entering a small town, liberating the Netherlands (in Dalfsen)

Seventy years after the end of World War II at the height of summer, the Van Noorden family got together on a typical Dutch day with rain drops and fleeting sunshine taking turns in short bursts, making it difficult for the hosts to determine where to stage the seating arrangements.

The habit of meeting had slowly grown over the years and became more formalized after the matriarch, Frieda, passed away at age 89, ten years after her husband, Kaleb, expired from a massive heart attack. If not for Frieda’s birthday, nobody would ever meet again, as Frieda and Kaleb’s offspring were not all that close; even some resentment from childhood years lingered.  However, nobody was yet prepared to let the family fall apart with Frieda’s death and become another alienated family—so many extended family members had died already, alone and estranged.

From then onwards, the Van Noorden relatives met bi-annually: brothers and sisters and their offspring. Recently, after the sudden death of one cousin, (most cousins had attended her funeral after years of alienation), they decided to have a reunion day for the cousins as well. So one day was allocated to the children, and the next day, the cousins on mother’s side would meet.

Kaleb’s relatives were strangers; nobody had met all of Kaleb’s eleven siblings, or even remembered their names.  All members of the war generation had long gone; only stories were left now. The one member who missed most of these gatherings was living in Canada, Wilhelmina, but this time in 2015, she was present.

World War II, a significant event in all of the world’s history, certainly had overshadowed the Van Noorden family. War had already caused a split between twin brother Franz and his sister Frieda during the years of German occupation, although it was unclear to most of the second generation–just children then, or not even born—how and why that happened. It took for them to grow into old age to want to explore those years with each other, finally wondering what kind of people their parents really had been and by extension, why they themselves had become who they are. Betrayal, loyalty, secrecy, and collaboration with the enemy were subjects too sensitive for open discussion. Secrecy had continued after the war; nobody wanted to talk much about those years.


Rotterdam, main harbour city in the west Netherlands after the “Blitzkrieg” 1940.

After the war, life had continued with social changes of tremendous impact for the Dutch. Many disappeared to Canada longing for a clean slate elsewhere, thus escaping the bleak years of rebuilding. Some of the emigrants had been on the wrong side of the war: collaborators with the enemy. Others were women who had met these strapping young Canucks and Yankees and had fallen in love over a liberation libation. Some were left behind, pregnant. Many children with overseas’ fathers were born post war: illegitimate children, as they were called then and some children followed decades later, on a quest to find their dad after their parent’s passion had weakened, but blood ties still pulled.

The Dutch nation felt that they owed their freedom, and even their lives sometimes, to the allied troops:  Canadians and Americans soldiers that liberated the towns and villages in hard-won battles, losing many lives doing it, and cementing Dutch loyalty in post war times.

No surprise then that the youngest of the post war generation, Wilhelmina Van Noorden, left for Canada with her parents’ blessing, to join a Canadian young man she had met on a vacation in that northern land. She was born four years after the war; her name signified a nation’s strong emotional connection to the Dutch royal house and Queen Wilhelmina whose family had been in exile in Canada and had been the Dutch national symbol of strength and loyalty during the German occupation.


Dresden bombed flat near the end of war in 1945, with more civilians dead than Nagasaki and Hiroshima put together.

War is a strange paradigm for life; it had never been real to Wilhelmina, although it overshadowed her life, nevertheless. In grade school her post war generation was extensively educated on the perils of discrimination and intolerance with examples of what had happened during WWII. At a young age Wilhelmina saw photos and movies of live skeletons with hollow eyes that had survived the concentration camps—people that were Jewish, homosexual, developmentally delayed, or otherwise disabled or punishable in the eyes of the Nazi-German administration.  These survivors, originating not only from Germany, but also from the Nazi-occupied territories including the Netherlands, had been shipped into cattle rail cars and brought to near-extinction in German extermination camps, transfer and forced labour camps.  The children were shown in grainy black-and white videos and photos piles as high a house, made up of millions of bones of the actually exterminated—six million persons gone–and piles of suitcases, and boots, and hair to be used for pillow fill, and large open dug outs with emaciated bodies, not even covered by dirt, as the last of the German staff had fled. Actual ovens burned many people in a very organized manner. She even saw photos of lampshades made of human skin, and basins full of gold ripped from mouths.

All of the atrocious facts of that particular war were scary mysteries to Wilhelmina; how could this have existed? How could people let that happen to other people, to children, to their neighbours and their close friends? For Wilhelmina it was like a Grimm’s tale of horror and indeed, like many other children, she was traumatized for life, because it wasn’t just a story. In adolescence she became a pacifist, flirted with communism, and rejected conformism passionately. She did not readily accept her parents’ limits when the limits made no sense. She excelled in high school academically, but battled the authorities, which cost her with extra years to learn to comply. She left home and parental control as soon as she could.

As an adult, Wilhelmina became a passionate advocate for the lost and vulnerable, unable to become anything else under the brutal post-war education that lasted for years, and probably still carries on today in present-day Holland in a similar nothing-to-hide vein. The intent and motivation could be explained, sure. After the war, children embodied their parents’ hope for a better future for the nation, for the world. No wonder this generation of children were the love children and despised war: Make love, not war.

The sad part of the Dutch history is that the intent of education was the prevention of future genocide, although probably fuelled by guilt feelings. The Netherlands (and Britain, France, Belgium, the USA, all other nations involved) could have prevented millions of deaths, had they recognized in time what the Nazi regime was up to, and been less politically naïve about the Nazi goals and the Hitler politics, and had they recognized the envious, angry, anti-Semite in themselves, enough to stand up and arm themselves earlier and put aside their differences for the purpose of  peace, and not for  the accumulation of  territory. But somebody had to be blamed for poverty and stock market crash of 1929 and the following depression…

Hitler was successfully elected, and welcomed in the  German speaking neighbouring countries, because  he promised jobs and the restoration of honour and German pride in their nation, and he put the money where his mouth was, with extensive allocation of government money towards infra structure building rods and bridges and  electricity lines (and in secret, war equipment). Unemployment disappeared.


Syria in ruins

Other wars have started since; genocide was repeated. The United Nations had replaced the League of Nations–powerless before de war—which seems equally powerless to stop aggressive invasions without the presence of an impending war. Examples enough:  USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia in the Ukraine, Britain in the Falklands, and so on. Those that did not learn, are condemned to repeat history. The Jews of today are Muslims, Mexicans, Koptic Christians, Tootsies, Suni Muslims, fill in the blanks.

There are more people on the move now than after the second world war. Have we,  the human race,  learned anything yet?

Posted in Author circles, Babyboomer, Children, Diversity issues, EU, Global immigration, Immigration, International politics, Parenting, religion, righteousness, the Netherlands, Uncategorized, victims, world issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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